State Senator Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry) applauded Gov. Rauner for taking amendatory veto action on House Bill 4637—a measure that would have allowed for the abolishment of townships in McHenry County, but could leave taxpayers potentially subject to debt transfers or abuse of liquidating assets for county-wide motives.
The amendatory veto would apply the bill statewide and not just to McHenry County.
Since HB 4637 was passed by the 100th General Assembly, which concluded its work on Jan. 9, the bill is effectively dead under this amendatory veto. A new consolidation bill could be introduced in the new 101st General Assembly, which also began its work on Jan. 9.
“While I am a supporter of government consolidation, I’m more strongly an advocate for taxpayers. I had some concerns about HB 4637 because it left too many issues unaddressed,” said Wilcox. “I am appreciative of the Governor’s action to alter the language in the legislation. Doing so gives my colleagues and me the opportunity to bring a more comprehensive bill forward that better protects taxpayers.”
One of Wilcox’s main concerns about HB 4637 is the fact that if a township decides to dissolve itself into the county, its contractual obligations, including its debt, could be thrust onto the people of the entire county. Meaning, voters in a particular township can decide to dissolve their township and hand over all its debt to the rest of the county.
Wilcox hopes to address that issue, among others, in new legislation:
- Only taxpayers within the dissolving township boundaries are responsible for paying any debt transferred to the county.
- All park and cemetery land, buildings and facilities within the geographic area of the dissolving township must be utilized for the primary benefit of the geographic area of the dissolving township. Furthermore, any proceeds from the sale of these assets after dissolution must be utilized for the sole benefit of the geographic area of the dissolving township.
- Ensures that counties will receive Motor Fuel Tax dollars that were dedicated to a dissolving township based on lane miles. Under the flawed HB 4367, a dissolved township’s lane mile Motor Fuel Tax funding would be redistributed state-wide and not to the county or municipality taking over the road responsibility.
“This amendatory veto now gives us an opportunity to start fresh and improve upon the legislation,” said Wilcox. “Government consolidation is an important issue that has the potential to save taxpayers money, but it’s also one we have to tackle thoughtfully.”
Senators are scheduled to be back at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 29.